Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Invisible Girl by Mary Hanlon Stone

Book Jacket

When poor Boston girl Stephanie is abandoned by her abusive mother and taken in by Annie's wealthy Los Angeles family, she feels anything by at ahome.  Her dark complexion and shabby clothes don't fit in with the golden-hued world of blonds and extravagance.  These are girls who seem to live life on fast-forward, while Stephanie is stuck on pause.  Yet when a new rival moves to town, threatening Annie's queen-bee status, Stephanie finds herself taking sides in a battle she never even knew existed.

Brilliant newcomer Mary Hanlon Stone delivers a compulsively readable insider's view of growing up in a world where money and privilege aren't always what glitters.


This is a hard book to read.  Stephanie's life is far too painful for any 14-year-old to bear, from the physical and emotional abuse of her mother, to the neglect of her father, to the fickle and brutal world of middle school.  She is caught in this netherworld of stunted maturity (she reads Nancy Drew to escape and uses vocabulary words as a defense mechanism) and far too knowledgable of the world (she knows how to dress provacatively and the effects of alcohol).

It looks like Stephanie has been saved when she moves to California to live with a seemingly healthy and wealthy family.  But underneath their privilege is a whole different kind of viciousness.  Her new friends are truly horrible, and the games that are played in order to be popular are eerily similar to those I experienced in middle and high school (though thankfully not nearly so bad).

The story does end on a note of hope, but I wanted more!  I wanted to see how Stephanie would deal with the return to Boston, how she would grow up, what her future would look like.  I came to really care for her, and I wanted to know whether or not her future would be okay.  The ability to elicit that level of curiosity and concern is a pretty fantastic feat of Stone's. 

Four out of five Warrior Words.

Release Date:  May 2010
Reading Level:  Grade 9+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection:  YPL STO

Don't believe me?  Check out these reviews of Invisible Girl:

Frenetic Reader
Not Acting My Age

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